Handling and restraint

Almost all laboratory animals can be restrained safely and humanely provided they are handled correctly. All animals benefit from being first accustomed to being handled, and this can be done during the period of acclimatisation needed before they are used in a research procedure.


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If procedures that require physical restraint, for example, injections, are to be repeated on a regular basis, then familiarisation with restraint enables the procedure to be carried out more rapidly, easily and in a way that causes less stress to the animal. Positive reinforcement training can be used in most species and trains the animal to co-operate with the procedure. An example of the positive impact of this approach can be found in these videos: EPAA Po trained rats / EPAA untrained rats / EPAA trained mouse / EPAA untrained mouse .

Restraint will be stressful, even in animals that have become accustomed to handling, so the duration of restraint should be minimised. If you are relatively inexperienced in the technique that you plan to use, you should ensure you have an experienced assistant who can restrain the animal safely and humanely, and assist and supervise the procedure.

When carrying out procedures, make sure you are wearing appropriate protective clothing, both to protect yourself from hazards such as allergens, and to protect the animal from the inadvertent transfer of potential infectious agents.

Details of methods of handling and restraint for common laboratory species can be found in the species-specific articles in the category Minor Procedures without Anaesthesia.

Updated on 12th May 2020

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